THE EDUCATED OKADA RIDER: a need to broaden one’s scope of learning

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela

“Whatever the cost of libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation” – Walter Cronkite

“If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library” – Frank Zappa


I started dieting a couple of weeks ago. Yeah, I know…I know…I know, it’s pathetic! But I had to start after I discovered my tummy was getting bigger with accumulated ‘empty’ calories from all the beer I’ve been drinking. So I decided I’ve had enough. For the sake of my health, I had to start dieting. So presently, I am living on carrots, celery, cucumbers and other godforsaken vegetables I wouldn’t wish any of my enemies to eat. Dieting no easy o, aswear! People don dey call me goat wey dey chop grass sef. Moreover, my tummy would be singing lullabies at night as I struggle to resist the temptation to go feed on anything other than raw vegetables and fruits. Well, I hope to see the effect in the coming weeks. If not, I would proceed to throw away all those godforsaken raw vegetables and sue my dietician for giving me false advice. Pamurogo!

So after hustling on a Wednesday, I couldn’t resist the temptation anymore. I had to take at least one green bottle for the road as a toast to all my efforts toward shedding the extra pounds. So I proceeded to Mama Chinedu’s joint, my favorite, to have JUST one tumbler of palm wine and maybe, a plate of roast bush meat (if the spirit permits me to).

Doc, how body? E don tey o…why you run since leave us? Abi your Oga never pay you salary”, Mama Chinedu joked while laughing out loud as I walked into the compound.

Dey there dey laff na. Na you get your mouth. Very soon, I go leave that my Oga place, follow all these politicians enter Abuja go chop money. At least, Rochas don win second tenure”, I replied.

No mind me na. Doc, you dey vex quick o. Na so you go dey vex for your wife”, she said.

I don hear. E be like say you wan dash me Nkiru to marry. Abegi, shey pammie dey?” I asked.

Yes o. E still fresh small. But one tumbler na 500 naira now o. You know say pammie don cost”, she replied.

500 naira, abi na kobo? For wetin? Ordinary pammie…na blood of Jesus dey inside am?” I asked.

Doc, I dey serious. Na the price…you no be another person na. Pammie dey cost now o”, she said.

Ok then, give me Fayrouz make I drink…since you no wan sell pammie give me. Infact, I dey watch weight. I no wan drink pammie again”, I retorted.

Hahahahaha, You…watch which weight? You wey never chop belle full. Ok, no worry. Go inside sidon…I go give you normal price today. But na only today o”, she replied.

Na so…God bless you well well. Abegi, do quick o. Make you no forget one plate of ‘anu nchi’ join am”, I said and went inside the shop to sit down.

When I walked in, there were at least ten people in her shop, all drinking from their tumblers. Kakpo, the cobbler was at his usual spot beside the small transparent container that housed the fried fish. He was holding his snuff box. Alubarika was sitting with a young fair lady, feeding her bush meat and whispering sweet nothings into her ears. This one na real bush meat wey Alubarika catch today o. There was another young man sitting beside the door to the backyard, sipping from a bottle of Orijin and schooling the others about the state of the nation.

His voice was loud as he passionately castigated the government about the failed promises and the president’s tolerance for corruption. He challenged the others to quote any significant thing the government had done in the past 6 years. Power supply was even worse than it was when GEJ took over, he said. He likened most of the failed projects to the Great Leap Forward Chairman Mao embarked on in China from 1958 to 1961. He also talked about the need for a subconscious but consistent revolution in the nation that doesn’t need people taking up arms to fight the power.

To be honest, I was impressed. For the past couple of years since I started coming to Mama Chinedu’s joint, I’ve never met anyone discuss such pertinent issues. If it wasn’t Kakpo talking about how Mikel Obi was better than Di Maria, it would be another ethnic bigot calling GMB names and claiming GEJ was a savior. Or it would be arguments about girls with big nyansh as opposed to the ones with flat nyansh…bla bla bla. But here I was, sitting on a brown bench, sipping on this white frothy liquid, and listening to a young man discuss issues that tickled my fancy. I quickly introduced myself, taking advantage of any opportunity to network with potential clients or helpers (as my pastor would say).

Bros, what’s up? I am Dr. Baruu. I work at that specialist hospital beside the bank. And you are?

I am Michael. It is a pleasure. I am actually an okada rider. But I graduated from UNIBEN with a degree in Microbiology. Na condition make crayfish bend”, he smiled.

When he mentioned ‘okada rider’, he didn’t flinch nor did his mien change to a shameful one. I was the one that felt some type of way (sic) for asking him what he did. We talked more about other issues: he was of the opinion that the Cultural Revolution that took place in China was essential (albeit a failed one) and Nigeria needed such, to which I objected to the notion; the contemporary economic policies in emerging markets in Asia; Third Worldism and why gender equality would not see the light of the day in many societies in Africa.

As we were discussing, my phone rang. “Doc, do quick show. Oga don come and him dey find you. And one patient just come o”, Nurse Titi said at the other end. “Mscheew, that man sef. Ok, I dey come”, I said and cut the call.

I finished my drink, paid the bills, said my goodbyes while promising to come back to finish the discussion and left.

Throughout that day, I kept reflecting on what transpired. This was a graduate from a University with a degree in Microbiology, and well versed in issues that had little or nothing to do with his area of specialty. Obviously, riding okada for a living wouldn’t be his ultimate pleasure. But that is the state of the nation we’ve found ourselves in.

One’s social background or surrounding economic conditions shouldn’t hamper the need to acquire education and knowledge. I am not talking about going to a university, sitting your ass down in a lecture hall and listening to old dons read out well rehearsed lectures from worn-out books that haven’t been updated since the fall of the Biafran Empire. Naa, Naa, Naa…I am talking about making a conscious effort towards studying and widening one’s scope of knowledge. It’s a pity that in these contemporary times, in a bid to acquire certain academic titles, people tend to streamline the range of topics they read and limit their pursuit of knowledge, focusing only on those topics that would simply lead to attaining the particular academic title they wish to acquire. Little wonder most respected specialists in certain areas cannot hold any noteworthy discussion on issues outside their scope of learning.

Meeting the educated okada rider was an eye opener for me, signifying the need to continue broadening one’s scope of learning. You don’t lose anything by doing so; rather, you make yourself a better citizen of the world.

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